September 12, 2003 at 10:31 a.m.
Two days before the Vikings slipped past Chisago Lakes, North Branch started the week with another balancing act, narrowly slipping by Irondale 3-1.
Irondale started the match with authority, spiking the Vikings in game one 25-12. The match was the first at home this season for North Branch. It was obvious to head coach Jim VanEerden that nerves played a part in the start.
“We had our home crowd there and the girls were a little nervous at first,” mentioned VanEerden. “After we lost the first game, I told the girls that we had to turn it around sometime. The crowd really started to get behind us and the girls settled down.”
Did they ever. North Branch responded by taking the next three games, 25-13, 32-30, and 27-25. Despite some tense moments, the Vikings found a way to get it done.
“The key to winning the match versus Irondale was hanging on in the third game,” remarked VanEerden. “We exchanged points all the way to 30 before we finally got two rallies together to win. Kaity Vichorek really stepped up by keeping the ball in play. She only committed one error in 26 kill attempts. Mandy Warzala also did a fine job coming off the bench by serving a perfect 16 for 16.”
Along with Vichorek and Warzala, Rachel Brown led the team with eight kills. The victory pulled the Vikings to 1-2 on the season heading into their matchup with Chisago Lakes.
“We started the season by playing two very tough teams,” said VanEerden. “Totino is one of the best teams in state. So, even though our record doesn’t necessarily reflect it, I think we’ve been playing some good volleyball for the most part.”
Irondale 25, North Branch 12
North Branch 25, Irondale 13
North Branch 32, Irondale 30
North Branch 27, Irondale 25
North Branch statistics:
Brown: 8 kills
Warzala: 16 for 16 on serves